Smith Mountain Lake is one of Virginia’s most popular vacation destinations. This sprawling lake provides plenty of opportunities to swim, boat and fish. Accordingly, Smith Mountain Lake State Park also features hiking and biking trails, as well as nearby small towns that offer an abundance of opportunities to shop, dine, and partake in cultural activities. Each community has its own unique personality, so read on to decide which Smith Mountain Lake vacation rental is perfect for your getaway.

1. Penhook

fishing boat

Penhook is located equidistant from Roanoke and Lynchburg, two of the biggest cities in the area. This central location makes it a great choice if you’re planning to explore the region. It also boasts two public boat launches, which makes it a fantastic option if you’re planning on bringing or renting a boat. This area is semi-rural, with several pick-your-own fruit farms and other agricultural activities in the area. However, you may need to drive a bit for anything but casual dining.

2. Wirtz

Conveniently located off of Route 220, Wirtz blends small-town charm with modern amenities. Stop into the old-fashioned market at Homestead Creamery for a bite to eat and a taste of their award-winning ice cream, or spend a rainy afternoon watching a movie at Westlake Cinema. Wirtz is also home to numerous shopping opportunities ranging from handmade artwork to upscale boutiques, mostly located on charming winding roads for a country feel.

3. Huddleston

wooden vacation rental house
Source: Flickr / Virginia State Parks

This picturesque little town is located just outside of Smith Mountain Lake State Park, so it’s a good place to look for a vacation rental if you plan to bring along your bikes or explore the hiking trails. There are numerous dining options ranging from cute cafes to traditional grills, and several are located directly on the waterfront, allowing you to enjoy your meal with a view. Huddleston is also home to a public boat launch, so you’ll have plenty of activities to choose from.

4. Roanoke

creepy cavern

If waterfront access isn’t terribly important and you want a more bustling experience, look for a vacation rental in Roanoke. Located about an hour away from Smith Mountain Lake, this bustling city features a mix of casual and upscale dining options, plus plenty of shopping and family activities ranging from museums to sporting events. Roanoke is centrally located to many popular tourist sites in the Blue Ridge Mountains, including caverns and hiking trails.

5. Lynchburg

On the other side of Smith Mountain Lake, also about an hour away, lies the historic city of Lynchburg. This area is a history lover’s dream, as the city itself and the surrounding areas are dotted with historic sites. Choose a vacation rental close to downtown and walk into the city to catch live music, fantastic restaurants, and fun shopping. The James River, which runs through the city, also features a network of hiking and biking trails to let you enjoy the great outdoors.

6. Rocky Mount

Located less than 30 minutes from Smith Mountain Lake, Rocky Mount combines city convenience and country charm. This town features numerous artisans listed on the White Lightning Artisan Trail, which highlights local weavers, glassblowers, painters and more. Visit one of the numerous historical sites in the area, such as the Booker T. Washington National Monument. There are also more exciting activities, such as miniature golf and go-kart rentals when you want to change up the pace and keep the whole family entertained.

7. Moneta

lake view at a park
Source: Flickr / Virginia State Parks

Nestled on the shore of Smith Mountain Lake is the town of Moneta, a quiet community with plenty of things to do. Dining options include a mix of American staples and various ethnic restaurants. You can also search for hidden treasures at the large antique mall. Moneta is the home base for the Virginia Dare, an old-fashioned sidewheel boat that provides lake cruises and tours. Moneta also offers two public boat launches and a public beach, so you can easily spend plenty of time out on the water.

8. Glade Hill

This small, unincorporated community has more of a rustic feel than many of the neighboring areas. The quiet area is home to historic homes and a few scattered galleries, but the only shopping option is a small convenience store. It is conveniently located off of State Route 40, however, which provides easy access to shopping and dining in neighboring communities, including Penhook, Moneta, and Rocky Mount.

9. Union Hall

white sailboat
Source: Flickr / Des Runyan

Union Hall is another waterfront community with a bit of an upscale feel. There are several waterfront dining restaurants in the area, as well as Blackwater Marina and Grill. Although this marina is privately owned, there is a public boat launch available. Shopping and other activities are somewhat limited in Union Hall, but it’s charming character and easy access to other areas make up for it.

10. Hardy

This family-friendly community has something for everyone. Tour an alpaca farm one day, then hit the links at the local country club the next. Hardy features plenty of casual chain restaurants if you just want a quick bite to eat, but it’s also home to local favorites like the Sunken City Brewing Company. Many of the area’s fishing charters and gear rentals are located in Hardy, so you can easily rent anything you didn’t bring with you.